Monday, July 23, 2012

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino

I've been in the mood for some dark and strange reads of late and I have to say that my TBR has delivered! Over the past week, I finished up a Joe Hill and I had an early shot at Michael Boccacino's fabulous debut, Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling, which hits shelves tomorrow.

The Darrow family has suffered great loss of late -- Mrs. Darrow passed away after a long battle with illness and the boy's nanny has recently been murdered, Charlotte Markham, the new governess, steps up as surrogate nanny in addition to her position, determined to do what's best for the boys. After all, Charlotte herself knows great loss as well. While exploring the woods one day, Charlotte and the boys come across a strange house. The House Darkling exists in a different world, one in which Mrs. Darrow lives, serving as a governess herself. Charlotte agrees to return with the boys, allowing them to spend more time with their mother, but as Charlotte learns more about House Darkling and The Ending -- the world in which Darkling exists -- she becomes convinced that severing the connection between the worlds might be in everyone's best interest.

This is a wonderfully weird debut filled with fantastical and horrific imagery. It's hard to believe that this is Boccacino's debut as his creation in the Ending and House of Darkling is both magical and brilliant. I can find no fault in this book and would happily and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark fantasy.

Markham is definitely going down on my list as one of my favorite 2012 releases. One of the cool things Boccacino does (in addition to building a great story and a truly original and intriguing world) is the inclusion of short stories. This is something a few of my other favorite authors have done and it can be quite effective as well as wholly creative (John Harwood in The Ghost Writer, Susannah Clarke in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon in The Shadow of the Wind - though I can't recall if he included the stories or just mention of them). Interestingly, Boccacino's PS portion of the book includes reading recommendations and Jonathan Strange makes his list.

I did a happy dance when this book arrived and was happily entrenched in the book from beginning to end. I highly recommend running out tomorrow and tracking down a copy if you're looking for a really fabulous new read!

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